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A Wonderland formula funds California schools

Original post made by scattergram, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2010

From Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Brown. An eye opening editorial about the manipulation of the school funding Proposition 98 calculation.

Web Link

"His [Schwarzenegger's] claim of "full funding" is also contentious, because his administration has lowered its calculation of what Proposition 98 requires and because he would lower it even more by manipulating taxes on gasoline.

What has that to do with schools? In Wonderland, everything. Proposition 98 is partially keyed to total general revenue. Schwarzenegger would eliminate the sales tax on gasoline and offset that revenue by raising the per-gallon excise tax, which is not part of the Proposition 98 calculus. Schools would thus get $800 million less..."

"...Despite scores of maneuvers and the shells moving back and forth over the little ball, in fact, when you read the governor's budget, he calls for cutting education $2.4 billion," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said."

Comments (4)

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2010 at 12:44 pm

If you are going to read Mr. Brown's comments, it would be helpful to know the full history of Prop. 98: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

If this works, it is a link to a lot of Prop 98 analysis including a webcast for legislators. Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's the link to the HTML file: Web Link

Caps my emphasis

"LAO Assessment of Governor’s Proposition 98 Plan

Overall, we give the Governor’s January Proposition 98 plan a mixed review. On the one hand, the plan contains several major risks discussed below.... On the other hand, the plan has some merit—maintaining flat year–to–year funding within a difficult budget context while providing local education agencies with new forms of flexibility.


Governor’s Proposition 98 Plan MIGHT BE ALL STATE CAN AFFORD. Despite all the risks highlighted above, the Governor’s Proposition 98 plan has some merit. Given the state’s large budget shortfall and the proposed reductions for other sectors of the budget, EDUCATION IS TREATED RELATIVELY FAVORABLY under the Governor’s January plan. Within this overall budget context, HOLDING total Proposition 98 SPENDING FLAT from 2009–10 to 2010–11 might be the most that the state can afford. (Due to various one–time issues discussed earlier—combined with the one–time nature of billions of dollars of ARRA funds provided in 2009—flat Proposition 98 funding would leave school districts facing a reduction in programmatic resources in 2010–11.)

Flexibility Proposals Have Potential. We also think the Governor’s flexibility proposals have merit. For example, we recommend the Legislature pursue the administration’s proposals to remove restrictions on contracting out as well as modify various teacher policies though in some cases with significant refinements. Furthermore, we recommend the Legislature consider various other flexibility options, such as CONSOLIDATING ADDITIONAL CATEGORICAL PROGRAMS and sponsoring a ballot measure to repeal the autopilot funding formula of Proposition 49. Finally, we recommend against taking major actions that would restrict local discretion and thereby work at cross–purposes with new flexibility options. For example, we recommend the Legislature reject the Governor’s district administration proposal which provides no new flexibility but instead restricts how school districts can use existing general purpose funding."

Like this comment
Posted by scattergram
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm

But here's the problem quoted from the LAO's Assessment you post:

"Governor’s Proposals Rely Heavily on Washington. Federal funds and federal approval of flexibility to make reductions in various programs are at the core of the Governor’s budget proposals. In case the federal government fails to provide the relief requested in his base budget proposal, the Governor proposes that the Legislature approve the “triggering” of alternative program reductions and revenue increases, including elimination of significant health and social services programs."

I think everyone's clear that the Federal Government isn't going to provide California $6.9 billion in funds simply because the Governor thinks they should. Once this hallucination doesn't pan out, the triggers mentioned above will put our Assembly and Senate in quite a position. Kill Welfare (CalWorks) and the rest of the "safety net"? Or, go back to public education for additional cuts?

While I agree, this proposal may be all we can afford, my biggest pet-peeve here is:

1) the continued political manipulation of the Prop 98 minimum guarantee

2) the extension of so-called temporary cuts

3) the fantasy assumptions used to craft these budgets

4) the claim of full-funding victory instead of honestly saying, we're going to have to cut more.

Just my two cents.

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